Grace and peace to you in the name of God our creator and Christ our redeemer. Amen.

I was on the crew team in college. A racing boat for crew is pretty narrow and the oars are 12 feet long. There is a lot more of the oar outside the boat than inside the boat, so any slight change in where you hold your hands will have a huge impact on the balance of the boat. The first thing coach did with new rowers was to put us in the boat at the dock and have us raise our hands as high as we could and lower them as low as we could. He showed us just how hard it would be to actually flip the boat. Nevertheless, we still freaked out when we got a little off balance. We would pause and reset; take some deep breaths; check our balance; and row again.

Right now, everything feels a little off balance. Every day it feels like we are grasping more and more for balance, and we don’t know what to do, so we are pausing and taking a few deep breaths and checking our levels. This evening the Executive Committee met and decided that, following the guidance of state and federal government and public health officials, Messiah will not have in person worship or any non-essential gatherings of any sort at least until Palm Sunday. The Food Pantry will always distribute food and the pickup for subs from the Sub Sale is still scheduled for 2 pm Wednesday. Tina and I will still be working in the office and messages and mail will be checked. The building is closed to outside organizations that use our space for the time being, and the Preschool is closed. The Preschool follows the Mifflinburg Area School District calendar and will reopen when they do. Follow us on Facebook and check the website (newberlinlutherans.com) for updates.

Over this week, we will figure out ways that we can worship together while not together. We will figure out a way to have a Lenten meditation, though we will not gather for soup and fellowship in person. We will figure out ways for ministry teams and committees to meet remotely. We will pray and study together. We will still be the Body of Christ, though perhaps not in the same place at the same time for a while.

As we navigate these days, I give thanks for you. I give thanks for your witness to God’s Word in our world and the love of God whose name is Jesus in our community. I give thanks for our worship together yesterday. When we gathered, we proclaimed together the mystery of faith: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” We all, as one voice, as one body pronounced that love is stronger than death and Christ is truly here, and will come again, even if we may not feel it right now. I cannot wait until we are able to gather for worship once again.

And in the meantime, know that, as St. Paul wrote, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Peace be with you.

The Rev. D. Lowell Chilton, Pastor
570-884-4386 | lowell@newberlinlutherans.com

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